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A Southern Standby with a Sustainable Twist

Maggie Borden

September 21, 2016

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Veal often sparks controversy, but according to JBF Boot Camp alum Paul Fehribach, veal can actually be an integral part of a more sustainable food system if you source your meat right. “Veal has an important story to tell because whether you eat veal or not, if you consume dairy, the veal industry exists because of you,” Fehribach explains. Male calves are a natural part of a dairy farm's ecosystem, and producing veal allows the producers to supplement their farm income. The crucial thing is to support the ethical treatment of these animals, and as Fehribach notes: “It’s important that we create and expand demand for veal that is group-raised on pasture with their moms.”

Not only does it mean a more natural environment for the animals, but it ultimately leads to a more flavorful product, as displayed in this recipe for fried veal steak, from the chef’s Big Jones Cookbook. Fehribach even postulates that fried veal might have been the progenitor to the Southern standby chicken fried steak, suggesting the enduring appeal of this protein, if raised humanely. Get the recipe.

Hungry for more? View our entire recipe collection. Learn more about the JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change.

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Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.